Johnny Weissmuller – Tarzan Triumphs (in the Water)

Day 63 of Colourisation Project – July 9

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

On this day, July 9 in 1922, Johnny Weissmuller swims the 100 meters freestyle in 58.6 seconds breaking the world swimming record and the minute barrier.

Johnny Weissmuller, born in 1904 was an Austro-Hungarian-American competition swimmer and actor best known for playing Tarzan in films of the 1930s and 1940s. At age nine, Weissmuller contracted polio and at the suggestion of his doctor took up swimming to help battle the disease.

Johnny Weissmuller

Publicity Still – Johnny Weissmuller in Tarzan Triumphs –  1943 – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Weissmuller swimming credentials are impressive. He was one of the world’s fastest swimmers in the 1920s, winning five Olympic gold medals for swimming and one bronze medal for water polo. He won fifty-two US National Championships, set sixty-seven world records and remained undefeated in official competition for the entirety of his competitive career. In 1950, Weissmuller was selected by the Associated Press as the greatest swimmer of the first half of the 20th Century and in 1983 was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

After his swimming career, Weissmuller signed a seven-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and played the role of Tarzan in Tarzan the Ape Man (1932). The movie was a huge success and Weissmuller became an overnight international sensation. Weissmuller starred in another six Tarzan movies for MGM with actress Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane and Cheeta the chimpanzee. His character’s distinctive Tarzan yell is still often used in films. Then, in 1942, Weissmuller went to RKO and starred in further six Tarzan movies.

In 1948 Weissmuller took on the role of Jungle Jim for Columbia and made thirteen Jungle Jim films between 1948 and 1954. In 1955, he began production on twenty-six episodes of the television adventure series Jungle Jim.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Johnny Weissmuller has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame facing the star of Maureen O’Sullivan.

Johnny Weissmuller had as many wives as he had Olympic gold medals. He was married five times and had three children. After suffering a series of strokes in the late 1970s, Weissmuller died from pulmonary edema in 1984, at the age of 79. At his request, as his coffin was lowered into the ground, a recording of the Tarzan yell he invented was played three times.


“How can a guy climb trees, say “Me, Tarzan, you, Jane,” make a million? The public forgives my acting because they know I was an athlete. They know I wasn’t make-believe.” Johnny Weissmuller

This entry was posted in Colorization, Colourisation, Film, Photography, Sport, Television, USA and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Johnny Weissmuller – Tarzan Triumphs (in the Water)

  1. Pingback: Lupe Vélez – Killing the Urban Myth | Random Phoughts

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